The mission of Sigma is to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. Based on this mission, Theta Epsilon’s Nursing Excellence Awards were created in 2017. These awards are given to 1-3 members a year, depending on the number of nominations received, and each recipient receives a monetary prize. The award categories are Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.
Applications open each year from April 1st to May 21st. Self-nominations are accepted. The winners are announced yearly at Theta Epsilon’s Spring General Meeting. Click here for more information on our General Excellence Awards.
In 2018, the winner of Theta Epsilon’s Nursing Excellence in Leadership Award was Sue Fowler. Fowler took the time to answer some questions about nursing and leadership.
How long have you been a Sigma member?
My whole career is all I can tell you…forever is basically the answer. I went to Marquette University for my undergrad and in 1977 I was the vice president of the honor society there, which then became the first Sigma chapter. It was the inaugural one. I’ve been president of a number of Sigma chapters and held a leadership role in several others. I have left them all and now I am just with Theta Epsilon.
How long have you been a nurse?
I’ve been a nurse 41 years this year.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is a lot about who you are as a person, and it’s about seeing things in other people that they don’t see in themselves, seeing their potential. A leader is someone who helps people spread their wings and do things they never thought they were interested in. Also, leadership isn’t about me, it’s about we. It takes work to be a leader but the rewards are tremendous.
What inspires you to be a leader?
I’ve been a leader my whole life. I was vice president when I was a senior in high school, I was editor of the yearbook, I was involved in the school newspaper...I think I’m a leader because I am a survivor. I grew up poor, my dad completed 8th grade and my mom completed 6th grade. We didn’t have much money, I got through college on scholarships. It’s important to remember where your roots are. My parents were so basic and grounded and gave me the right soil to grow my leadership. Also, being a leader means being a mentor. I won a mentoring award many years ago from AACN and, for me, it was the most prestigious award I ever received.
What advice do you have for other Theta Epsilon members who want to become more involved with leadership roles and activities?
Start! Be involved in something. Right now I am probably a member of 10 different organizations. Find specialty organizations that interest you, that you want to be involved with. You always have to fill out those volunteer forms, take the time and make that effort. You just have to do.